Saturday 26 November 2022

The garden at the end of November

The garden is starting to settle down after the unusual heat of the last summer and then the copious amounts of rain over the last month or so.  The Fatsia japonica is in flower again - seemingly too late for insects and probably going to be frosted soon too.
Camellia SasanquaYoimachi is in flower too. It is supposed to flower from now onwards, but last year it didn't flower until Spring.  It has such delicate colours in the flowers and provides a splash of brightness at the rather dark bottom of the garden.
The buds are beautiful too.
Salvia microphylla Cerro Potosi has been an absolute star this year, with its small bright fuchsia flowers. It started to flower in July and has continued until now.  I have two plants in pots and they are a little straggly, but I don't mind that when they are such good flowerers.  I am debating whether I can squeeze one into the border...  They are hardy down to about minus 10 degrees C, so I am hoping they will survive the winter.
It is always nice to welcome a drop of sunshine into the garden at the approaching darkest time of year, in the form of winter flowering jasmine, Jasminum nudiflorum.  Another straggly looking shrub in habit but I love it nonetheless.  (Note to self - if I occasionally pruned it, it might look less straggly!)  

Bulbs are starting to be seen and the winter flowering honeysuckle is already putting out buds, which is a little unusual, but I think that is down to the weather patterns this year.

Tuesday 22 November 2022

A new visitor

No, we haven't got another cat.  Over the years, Ginny, Gonga and Scruffy have all appeared on this blog. They all adopted us and now it seems another one might have done the same.  This one used to follow Scruffy about and did come into the house, hoovering up any food Scruffy had eaten.  He followed Scruffy up to the bedroom one night too.  We did 'encourage' him not to stay, because we had Scruffy, but he was quite persistent.  Even though Scruffy is no longer with us, this cat continued to come to us, because we made the mistake of feeding him - he always seemed hungry.  Then he came in and started spending time in the house.
He has decided that my chair is his favourite place to be.  He also likes the red toy mouse.  He has certainly made himself at home.  We know that he belongs to someone in the next street and we have seen him out on the street on quite a few occasions.
We have called him Slinky Malinki (after the cat in the Hairy Maclary books by Lynley Dodd) because he has such long legs and is a thin and slinky-looking cat.  Currently he often spends the mornings with us and then is back overnight.  We are trying not to get too attached to him because he isn't ours (Chris is finding this quite challenging!)!  He is not a particularly affectionate cat, he doesn't meeow very often and has a very quiet purr. We are trying to keep him restricted to the sitting room but if the door is accidentally left open, he goes upstairs and has a good look round. I think he may be looking for Scruffy. How long he will keep visiting us is anyone's guess!

Saturday 12 November 2022

#Printinktober 2022 - week four

The final week of #Printinktober and what an enjoyable challenge it was.  Chris gave me the purple and orange colour scheme for 'Big' above.  It is one of the biggest background stamps I have from Stamps By Me, so worked well for this. 
'Small' was lots of tiny images from Woodware, by Jane Gill, linked together, which reminds me of the TV game show 'Blockbusters'.  People in the UK of a certain age will remember this!
'Pretty' was all these pastels and a stamp set from Altenew called Nature Snippets.
Another Visible Image set for 'Orange' using Erica's Maple.
'Dots' was illustrated by this big stamp from Altenew.  
'Dark' was a bit tricky but as it means absence of light, I went for a clear embossed circle image which would show up when you tipped the page.  The stamp was one from Visible Image again.
'Botanical' was from a couple of sets from Creative Expressions by Sam Poole.  I have used these quite a bit and they have a lovely vintage feel.
'Wood' meant I could dig out my hand carved wooden stamps from Blockwallah.  This one is Birch Tree.  I have collected quite a few of these but they don't get used very often, which is a shame.
'On Black' gave me the chance to use a newish stamp from Indigoblu - William Morris Willow, which was heat embossed with white.
Finally, 'Favourite'. I couldn't really choose a favourite, as I like so many stamps!  However, Tim Holtz's Snarky Cats are one of my favourites.  They have been used quite a bit for my cat loving friends' cards.  I do have one more space to fill so am having a think about what to feature and then these will be bound into a book with a stamped cover, of course!
I will post an update once the book is finished and bound.

Thursday 3 November 2022

Wanderlust 2022 - weeks thirty-six to forty-two - Inks

I thoroughly enjoyed exploring Inks in Wanderlust.  We began with Distress inks, making a background and then using tea bags and photos to create linked images, showing elements of our personalities.  I chose to put a photo of my Granny and my Mum in the teabags and a stamped image of a woman to represent me - Granny gave me a love of nature and gardening and Mum gave me a love of music.  
We used acrylic inks for our next piece. We made lots of patterns using inks and blowing through straws. we then tried to bring out something we could see in the pattern.  I eventually decided I could see part of a face, so brought it out using watercolour pencils.  I think it is quite enigmatic!
Acrylic ink painted onto feathers was our next lesson.  I made envelopes and placed some family photos in them - my Mum and Dad on the left and my Granny and her family on the right with a small photo of Dad as a little boy in the middle. I have used these before, but they are great photos.
Another inky background.  This page took a totally different turn from how I thought it would be.  It ended up being a memory of Scruffy, our cat who we lost at the end of August.   I painted Scruffy in acrylic ink using a photo for reference.  The autumnal colours and leaves just seemed to work with the theme.  The two ghostly cats in the corner represent the other two who are buried in the garden, Gonga and Ginny.    
This was about using loose brush strokes, holding the brush right at the end and Acrylic ink. It is vaguely based on a self portrait but doesn't really look like me, although that wasn't the idea anyway.  Not one of my favourites, but an interesting process - letting go of perfectionism!
Much more to my liking was this layered page, using spray inks, stamps, stencils and a magazine focal image.  I like the feeling of movement with the leaves and the woman's hair. This also included a useful lesson on colour theory, so that we wouldn't make 'muddy' colours (unless we wanted to use neutrals, of course).
The last in the inks section was using alcohol inks and stencils.  I used Yupo paper (synthetic paper which doesn't absorb the ink) for the image on the left and glossy card for the one on the right.  I wasn't happy with the tissue paper image on the right as the tissue paper didn't fade into the image as it should have done. Possibly this was to do with the alcohol background.  So, I had another go... 
I kept the original which is now hidden under the flap on the right. This time I used alcohol inks and stencils on my gel plate.  I think this worked much better and the tissue paper faded as it should do.
The last theme for this year is Paper and Fabrics, which should be good.